a form of communication; a hobby; a community service. It could be a school teacher in Nova Scotia making friends over the radio with another Radio Amateur in New Zealand; an Alberta teenager using her computer to upload a chess move through her radio which is retrieved by a fellow chess fan in Florida via an amateur radio space satellite; or a truck driver in Manitoba contacting Radio Amateurs in a hundred countries during a single weekend contest. In particular, Radio Amateurs save lives as part of an emergency communications network, the most important aspect of Amateur Radio. More Emergency Radio Operators are needed.
This unique mix of fun, convenience and public service is what distinguishes Amateur Radio. People get involved in Amateur Radio for many reasons, but they all have in common a basic knowledge of radio technology, regulations and operating principles. All have passed an examination leading to an authorization to operate on the "Amateur Bands." These frequency bands are reserved for use by Radio Amateurs at intervals from just above the AM broadcast band all the way up through the microwave frequencies. Even though Amateur Radio conversations may be heard around the world by anyone with a suitable radio receiver, given the right frequency and propagation conditions, Amateur Radio is basically two-way communication between Radio Amateurs.
The appeal of Amateur Radio
is the ability to communicate across the country, around the globe, and even with astronauts on space missions. Some Radio Amateurs build and experiment with radio. Computer hobbyists find digital modes to be a low-cost way to expand their ability to communicate. Those with a competitive streak enjoy "DX contests" where the object is to see how many distant Radio Amateurs they can contact. Some like the convenience of a technology giving them portable communication. Others use it to open the door to new friendships over the air, or through participation in an Amateur Radio club. Many combine Amateur Radio with the internet in various ways.